Saturday, December 20, 2014

December's Picks

We're kicking December's Picks off a bit early as , well... we want our Xmas holiday away from the Internet...happy holidays to you all and see you in 2015!

1. AMOS MILBURN-"Christmas Comes But Once A Year"
This mid tempo rock n' blues holiday number by Amos Milburn is one of my "seasonal favorites" so it's a fitting way to kick off this month's playlist!

2. THE BOB SEGER SYSTEM-"Sock It To Me Santa"
#1 in my "seasonal favorites" is this balls out December 1966 belter by Bob Seger that soulfully mimics James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and Mitch Ryder and proves indeed that some white boys had soul in the 60's.
"He's dressed real mod from head to toes, he's lost a little weight but his jelly still rolls...".

3. THE SYN-"Grounded"
The Syn were pretty much the Marquee Club's house band opening for mod faves The Action and The Who frequently.  This number owes a great deal to both in the high, soulful backing vocals that are every bit The Action and the controlled feed backing/toggle switch Rickenbacker guitar is pure Who. Slap on some groovy Farfisa and a driving beat and you have this Deram 1967 masterpiece.

4. RORY STORM & THE HURRICANES-"Brand New Cadillac (Live)" 
Ramshackle, pretty awful drumming (not Ringo as one of our reader's has pointed out, he had the night off!) and lo-fi but the energy and rawness can't be matched.  One listen and you've heard the exact moment that The Milkshakes were conceived.  From the CD "Live At The Jive Hive" (really a church hall in Liverpool) which collects an entire gig recording in March, 1960 that's so vibrant you can almost imagine what it was like being there.

Dobie Grey sang "but the original is still the greatest" and one lisen to this and you'll agree that although the Kingsmen version is a classic this beats the shit out of it and leaves it gasping for air with it's faux Caribbean accent, cool as hell delivery.

6. THE VAPORS-"News At Ten"
"Times gonna make you a man someday and you won't wanna go out and play with your friends..."

7. THE WHO-"Leaving Here" (Version 1)
My all time fave cover of Eddie Holland's mod opus is this version cut by The Who when they were still the High Numbers.  Though erroneously credited as the first version on several Who products the version first properly reissued was actually a second go the band had at it produced by Shel Talmy.  This version finally saw the light of day as a bonus cut on the "Odds & Sods" CD (which cocks it's origin up in the liner notes). This take is far more gutsy in my book, no doubt fueled by certain "substances"?

8. THE SMALL FACES-"Understanding"
In the spring of 1982 I pooled my hard earned, saved, scrimped $$ together and bought a ticket to see The Jam, the first LP by The (English) Beat and my very first Small Faces LP. It was a shoddy affair called "By Appointment" (see above photo) that contained a host of Decca era tracks (including several alternate versions that would not see a proper issue until the deluxe edition of the 1st LP) and even a song that wasn't them but was in fact a Decca folk trio named Adam, Mike and Tim who's "Little Pictures" was listed as "What's The Matter Baby".  None of the tracks on this album stood out as much as "Understanding": bass heavy, the lyrics ("but people if you don't understand what I'm puttin' down there is no more I can do.."), the whistle blown right after a thundering drum break and the almost Satanic "la la la la" chant. Magic to my ears then and still is.

9. DC FONTANA-"Saturn In Her Eyes"
I'm usually the "last to know first two go" on stuff.  That'd explain DC Fontana, whom I've only recently been hipped to by a pal in the U.K. (hello David!) who sent me their CD "Six Against Eight".  This number blows my mind with it's otherworldly mix of fuzz guitar, combo organ, strings, brass, table, sitar the whole kitchen sink, damned trippy!

10. CARLOS MALCOLM-"Monkey Man Ska"
This brilliant number is more r&b/Latin than ska but it encompasses all of those genres with a surprising beat that never fails to make my toes tap. I discovered it on a U.S. LP comp on Amy records titled "Jamaica Ska" (one of several U.S. mid 60's LP comps of that name) launched in a somewhat misguided attempt to bring ska into middle America.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ian McLagan In Memoriam May 12, 1945-December 3, 2014

Record Collector Bordentown, NJ 2/28/09
By now everyone knows that yesterday we lost the great Ian McLagan. To anyone who was fortunate enough to have met him they will all tell you what a lovely fella he was. Truly he was one of the best. It's not often that you get to meet your heroes but it's even rarer when they turn out to be so warm and wonderful. Even better when they remember you and treat you like a friend. To say he was genuine, friendly, patient and beyond cordial is just scratching the surface. I got to see and meet him many times (even closed a pub with him once, talk about the shit you'll be able to tell your grandchildren) . I first saw him live with The Bump Band at a then local record store and met him afterwards in February of 2009 and have seen and met him at least 4 or 5 times since. Each time he was an incredibly cheerful guy to talk and our conversations were never about the Small Faces oddly but clothes, soul music and B-3 Hammond jazz.

 In October (the 16th to be exact) my wife just was driving me to to pick up my car at the end of the day and had her usual Philly rock n roll station WXPN on and who's voice should emanate from the speakers but that of Mac. He was in the studio being interviewed and it transpired that he was playing in Sellersville, Pennsylvania that very night with The Bump Band. With the gig only hours away I was on the fence if I could get home, changed, round up someone to go AND get there by showtime! But my wife prodded me (thank god for that and her) and finally convinced me that I should go. After a few phone calls I found someone willing to join me. I was helped in reaching my decision to go see him when I discovered that the show that night would include his band (my previous 3 or 4 Mac gigs were just him solo or with his bassist Jon Notarthomas). My friend Joe accompanied to the show. We ran into Jon Notarthomas on the way into the pub adjoining the theater where the gig was to be held and he remembered me from previous gigs and said that Mac would be thrilled to see me and thanked us for coming out. The Bump Band put on a stellar gig that night with Mac's purple Hammond (an instrument he'd leave home on solo tours) filling the room with soul as they did lots of Ronnie Lane's Faces/solo tracks, a Small Faces cover and a healthy dose of his own material.

My friend Joe was a bit apprehensive about meeting him as he had never met him before. I assured him he would not be cagey (as John Mayall was when we'd met him a month earlier). After the gig he was seated out front and as we approached he lit up when he saw me like we were old pals and complemented me on my seersucker jacket and began telling a story about them being the "band uniform" in The Muleskinners. I mentioned that the last time I'd seen him I presented him with the Muleskinners(his first band) E.P. on Acid Jazz to sign which he had never seen before and was somewhat riled that someone had put it out without his knowledge (later assuring me that he took no offense in my buying it as if he were to get angry at any person who bought an authorized release of his he mused "I'd have no fans"). Always the fantastic story teller he proceeded to tell me that shortly after he was in the U.K. and someone came up after a gig and presented with a stack of the E.P.'s and a check for £200 for them. He mused that it was the most he'd ever made with The Muleskinners and that it was funny that a guy in New Jersey had to clue him on on a British record. I thanked him profusely for everything, wished him well on the rest of the tour and a safe return home to Austin and told him we'd catch him the next time he came around. Yesterday even more than on that night I was glad my wife convinced me I could make it to the gig.

Joe Oshman with Mac, Sellersville Theatre, Sellersville, PA 10/16/14

I don't wish to sound maudlin or pretentious but his death has hit me hard, like losing a friend. Anyone as into his music as I am and that's met him will know what I mean. I'm not a religious guy and I don't believe in anything after this mortal coil but if the believers are right I'd hope that I'm wrong and there is a heaven or afterlife and if there is that I hope Mac is there with his wife Kim and his pal Ronnie Lane who's music
he so lovingly kept alive by playing every time I saw him.

Cheers Mac, wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Great Forgotten U.K. 60's Sides: George Martin's Theme One

GEORGE MARTIN & HIS ORCHESTRA-Theme One/Elephants And Castles U.K. United Artists UP 1194 1967

"The Move-Flowers In The Rain" is usually the answer to a pub quiz question  in England that asks "What was the first record played on Radio One"?.  This is not correct from what I have gathered.  At 7:00 A.M. on September 30, 1967 The B.B.C. launched Radio One, their first all pop music radio station (established in the wake of the outlawing of the popular Pirate Radio) and the first sound listeners heard was Robin Scott introducing an orchestral but modern piece called "Theme One" by George Martin. Former Pirate Radio DJ Tony Blackburn then came on and played "Flowers In The Rain" .

"Theme One" first came to these ears in 1996 when the big Easy/Kitsch/Theme tune music craze began (which perfectly suited my randy dandy boy about town self) and swallowed me whole. One of my first comps of many of this genre was  "The Sound Gallery 2" which "Theme One" so elegantly closed and was pretty much required party music in my abode for the rest of the 90's.

One is immediately taken by "Theme One" with it's '66-'67 Macca style bass licks, regal trumpets, sweeping strings all under this wonderful pseudo psychedelic wash called "phasing" (aka "skying", a month after The Small Faces "Itchycoo Park" used the same technique on  drum segment) . Classical music it is not. It was later covered by Van der Graff Generator (1972) and Cozy Powell (1979) .

The B-side "Elephants And Castles" is not nearly as swinging. Based around a kitschy organ riff it's pretty Muzaky and verges on elevator music (and not really in the cool "Sound Gallery" style of easy either).

"Theme One" was issued on the essential but out of print CD compilation 'The Sound Gallery Volume two" (which is where this track first came to my attention) and on a still available CD titled "Highlights From 50 Years Of Recording" a slimmed down version of an extensive collection of his material.

Hear "Theme One":

Hear "Elephants And Castles":

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November's Picks

We're doing November's picks a little earlier than usual to plug a new DJ night a few friends of mine and I have launched in the City of Brotherly Love.  This month's picks are some of the 45's I'll be laying down at Kung Fu Necktie next week, won't you put on your dancing shoes and come on down?

1. THE DELLS-"It's Not Unusual" U.S. Vee Jay VJ 764
Tucked away on the flip of the original issue of  the 1965 "Stay In My Corner"  is this storming uptempo cover of Tom Jone's most famous number that really swings literally making it their own by not just increasing the tempo but pulling out all stops in doing it.

2. GARNET MIMMS AND THE ENCHANTERS-"Tell Me Baby" U.S. United Artists  UA 694
One of my fave Garnet Mimm's numbers is this call and response stormer from 1964.  So loved by The Who that they covered it AND it's B-side "Anytime You Want Me" in their live set throughout most of  '65.  Give a listen to Garnet's forceful delivery and see why:

3. JAMO THOMAS-"I Must Holler" U.S. Chess 1971
Besides his famous "I Spy For The FBI" Jamo Thomas did not cut a lot of singles in the 60's.  This one is from 1966 and is a mid tempo slow boiler with some smooth /laid back falsetto vocals from him on top of an infectious, bluesy little guitar lick reminiscent of "Smokestack Lightning".

4. THE OLYMPICS-"Mine Exclusively" U.S. Mirwood  5513
Topping off the equally popular B-side "Secret Agents" is this track from 1966.  One of the many tunes performed live by my U.K. 60's mod heroes The Action, this tune is without a doubt one of my faves by the Olympics coming off somewhere in the vicinity of an uptempo Temptations number in my estimation.

5. THE PHIL UPCHURCH COMBO-"You Can't Sit Down" U.K. Sue WI-4005
Chicago guitarist Phil Upchurch is behind one of the most monster instrumental shakers that ranks right up their with "Green Onions" in my book. Dating from 1961 originally, this two sided smoker never fails to get things moving, on either side.

6. EDDIE FLOYD-"Holding On With Both Hands" U.S. Stax 45-246
Beneath the monster A-side "Big Bird" is this track which sounds nothing like something issued in 1968. Meshed perfectly underneath the trademark Memphis horns and twangy Steve Cropper Telecaster licks this mid tempo burner has always been a choice of mine to spin.

7. TONY CLARKE (and YOU his audience)-"Ain't Love Good, Ain't Love Proud" U.S. Chess 1894
The "live" sound of this May 1964 shouter has always been in dispute.  Was it really "live" or was this added in the studio?  The debate continues, but regardless this track gets things moving with lots of funky handclapping and smooth female backing vocals.

8. THE MANHATTANS-"I Wanna Be Your Everything" U.S.Carnival 507
Released on the legendary New Jersey label Carnival in 1964 this number is devoid of a lot of the guts that propel most of the songs on this list but that doesn't detract from it in any way as it's a perfect number with a surprisingly simple groove that doesn't leave your mind easily.

9. CHRISTINE KITRELL-"Call His Name" U.S. Federal 45-12540
Perfect gritty, but upbeat r&b from 1965 that sounds honestly like it was recorded much earlier (it was later issued on King in 1968 sowing more confusion) with some interesting breaks but sitting nicely along any smokers from Sue records 1963-1964.

10. THE SOUL SISTERS-"Good Time Tonight" U.S. Sue 10-005
And speaking of can't go wrong with a Soul Sisters 45 on Sue and since we're all about good times, this number pretty much encapsulates what our intentions are. So come by and hit the floor and take a drink, and by all means "get tight" too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Geno Washington Documentary Trailer

Holy shit!  I stumbled across this on YouTube the other night and know nothing at all about this, but I'm damned excited.  If anyone has any info we'd love to hear about it, it looks great and there's no sign of Bono in it!!

We've Got The Action...pre-ordered that is....

Okay kids , if you've been remotely following this blog you'll know that The Action are running neck and neck for the #1 position in my heart for the "Favorite Band Of All Time" title with The Small Faces.  We might have a winner and they're a five piece from Kentish Town. Well just when you thought there were no more unreleased cuts laying around by our boys yesterday morning I received word from my good pal Johnny Bluesman that there were 4 Action cuts exhumed from the vaults being issued on a limited edition 10" E.P. (as well as a CD E.P.) coming at us next month.

If you were lucky enough to score the deluxe edition of their phenomenal book "In The Lap Of The Mods" it came with a mock up acetate of their incredible Decca demo recording of The Temptations "(Girl) Why You Wanna Make Me Blue". For those of you who missed that it is contained here on the E.P. along with an alternate recording of "In My Lonely Room" (the flipside of their 1964 debut 45) from the same recording session.  Also included is a previously unheard cover of The Impressions "You'll Want Me Back" (the flip of "It's Alright") and a previously unreleased Reggie King original called "Fine Looking Girl" recorded when the band were still known as The Boys.

To get all the details and pre-order you copy head on over yonder.

Monday, October 27, 2014

October's Picks

1. THE LOOSE ENDS-"Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore"
One of my favorite examples of freakbeat is this U.K. 1966 cover of The Young Rascals 1965 track on Decca. The vocals take a snatch of Jagger vitriol and dash it with some soul, pile in a blistering, distorting lead guitar solo and this, my friends, is what freakbeat is all about.

2. THE POPPY FAMILY-"No Blood In Bone"
I stumbled upon this trippy number while watching a movie earlier this month and Shazam-ed it and lo and behold it was from The Poppy Family, a one hit wonder duo famous for "Which Way You Going Billy" (second in playground serenades by classmates to me to "Billy Don't Be A Hero" in the early 70's). The number has a wigged out vibe with it's psychedelic intro and immediately lapses into this funky groove with electronic strings, throbby bass, fuzz guitar, groovy organ and lots of phlange! And it has a damned infectious groove!

3. JUNCO PARTNERS-"Natural Thoughts"
From their untitled 1970 LP which has appeared recently on iTunes comes this hard driving number that my pal Ivy Vale turned me onto a good 20 years back that is not at all unlike The Small Faces '68 in parts with soulful vocals, a driving rhythm section and some balls.

4. THE PEDDLERS-"On A Clear Day You Can See Forever"
One of my fave Peddler's tunes is their jazzy/supper club/easy version of "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" with it's swirling strings, harp and organ.  Used with perfection in an episode of "Breaking Bad" where they're cooking blue meth.  Odd.

5. SIMON & GARFUNKEL-"Patterns"
Besides coming back with a fake British accent after his brief month long hiatus across the pond Paul Simon also came back with a deep appreciation for Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and "Eastern" tinged folk music. This number from their "Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme" album has an Eastern slant to it with tabla, Graham style guitar licks and a very British '67 pop/psych feel to it. Originally cut by Simon and the other guy on their '65 LP "The Paul Simon Songbook" it was re-recorded following Simon getting "tuned in" and (perhaps) "turned on".

6. JETHRO TOE (TULL)-"Aeroplane"
This is the flip of the 1968 debut 45 by those flute driven hippies (with their moniker deliberately sabotaged on the label credits by their producer who thought "Jethro Toe" wasn't as naff as "Jethro Tull").  Believe it or not it's a great mid tempo number that sits somewhere between The Moody Blues and Jason Crest, wonderfully produced with some jazzy little tinges.  Wow!

7. DUFFY POWER-"Red White And Blue"
One of the crown jewels of RPM's Duffy Power compilation "Vampers And Champers" (also released previously as "Just Stay Blue" or "Little Boy Blues"), a collection of unreleased mid 60's tracks cut by the master himself is this brilliant little track.  Soulfully wailing above some jazzy stand up bass, jazzy little guitar licks and some mild drums (and a harmonica solo, naturally) this number epitomizes "cool" in my book.

The Move onstage at the Marquee Club during their residency 1966

8. THE MOVE-"Can't Hear You No More"
Unearthed on a tape for their "Anthology 1966-1972" box set the pre-record contract Move (at the height of their soul covers period) cut a great "beat group" version of Betty Everett's classic for this radio session from January 1966 shortly after the groups formation.

Speaking of The Move....this September 1965 single by Mike Sheridan's Lot (Formerly Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders) features the talents of Roy Wood on lead guitar and vocals (distinctly noticeable on the chorus but singing the whole number in tandem with Mike Sheridan) before he cut one more single with them and jumped ship to start the Move.  This number is British 60's beat group perfection in my book.

10. GENE CHANDLER-"(Gonna Be) Good Times"
In my book the ultimate 60's r&b/soul anthem is not "The IN Crowd" by Dobie Grey but this one by Gene Chandler from 1965 on Constellation records:
"Early evenin' and the weather's fair, dark glasses and don't give a care,
Finger popppin' out on the street all dressed and neat".

Sunday, October 26, 2014


We here at "Anorak Thing" are paying tribute to the late, great Jack Bruce by directing you all to go give a listen to his 1965 debut 45 on Polydor records.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Well Respected Odyssey

My first inkling of the Kink's came from their 1965 U.S. hit " A Well Respected Man" which I'd heard on an Oldies station that my mother always had on at some point in the late 70's . I'd no idea who this band singing were but I knew they sounded British.  I could only recall the melody after awhile as the words slipped from my brain.  There was no Internet, no iTunes, no YouTube, no Shazam and humming it to my parents and friends was about as useful as trying to get a four year old to translate ancient Hebrew. So I devised my own lyrics that I sang to myself to it's melody to keep it fresh in my head in the hopes that one day I'd discover it's true identity (I did the same for The Hollie's "On A Carousel"):

"with my monophonic electric double neck guitar I go driving past here house here in a big black shiny car"

Silly yeah I know but I was all of 12 or 13 .  It wasn't until a few years later I was humming it in school in the hall (it had a great echo down this one ancient corridor) and a teacher heard me.  Instead of reprimanding me he said "Kinks eh?" I'd like to think I said "I beg your pardon", but I was in my early teens so my answer was more than likely: "What?". The reply was something to the effect of  "the Kinks, they're a British group".  Conversation led to the divulging of this songs title and I scrawled it on the inside of a notebook: "A Well Respected Man" by The Kinks. As mentioned above there was no iTunes or way to instantly find this song, not that I had any money to do so anyway so it was all but forgotten until Xmas of 1982 or 1983 (in a time period where I'd reconnected myself with British 60's sounds that were from 1980 on dashed away by punk and '79 mod and ska bands). For Xmas my parents bought me a British Kinks compilation LP called "The Kinks Greatest Hits" (more than likely from Jamesway a department store chain who's record department always had loads of odd British LP's on Marble Arch, Pickwick and etc, you can read more on my Jamesway experience here).  They'd no idea whether I'd heard of them or not and to be honest I'd all but forgotten them till I heard that tune. It was an odd comp as it contained "A Well Respected Man" (which was not a hit in the U.K. just an E.P. track as mentioned earlier) as well as another E.P. tune "Wait Till Summer Comes Along".

"A Well Respected Man" first saw the light of day on the "Kwyet Kinks" E.P. (Pye NEP 24221 in September 1965). a month later it was launched as an A-side in the United States where it rose to # 13( the fourth Kinks single to break the American top 20, their next to last hit of the 60's here in the States). To me it epitomizes crucial trademarks of Ray Davie's 60's songwriting: social commentary and the distinction between the classes. The lyrics probably didn't mean much here in the States and it's probably the only time the word "fags" was used in the American Top 40 (though certainly not the derogatory phrase we Yanks know it as). It's lyrically cynical but it's bitterness is assuaged  by it's bouncy cheeky chappie delivery because of course Ray is merely taking the piss out of these morally bankrupt, decadent Toffs . Again I'm sure all this flew over everyone's heads here.

Kinda Kinky

I've borrowed the lyrics from one of those dodgy lyrics websites but they seem accurate to me.

'Cause he gets up in the morning,
And he goes to work at nine,
And he comes back home at five-thirty,
Gets the same train every time.
'Cause his world is built 'round punctuality,
It never fails.

And he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And his mother goes to meetings,
While his father pulls the maid,
And she stirs the tea with councilors,
While discussing foreign trade,
And she passes looks, as well as bills
At every suave young man

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he likes his own backyard,
And he likes his fags the best,
'Cause he's better than the rest,
And his own sweat smells the best,
And he hopes to grab his father's loot,
When Pater passes on.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he plays at stocks and shares,
And he goes to the Regatta,
And he adores the girl next door,
'Cause he's dying to get at her,
But his mother knows the best about
The matrimonial stakes.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Spencer Davis Group Mk. II Part II

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP-Time Seller/Don't Want You No More U.S. United Artists UA 50202 1967

As discussed in an earlier entry here the 2nd line up of the Spencer Davis Group had a dual life as a pop psych band and an r&b act. Here we have another example that follows suit.

"Time Seller" was the new look S.D.G. line up's (discussed in our earlier entry) U.S. debut 45 hitting the streets in August 1967 (it's U.K. counterpart on Fontana TF 854 was released a month earlier). It's an amazing little pop psych number that starts with some VERY '67 sounds: sawing cellos, harpsichords and soulful vocals and an amazing melody (with some typically silly lyrics courtesy of band members Spencer Davis, Eddie Hardin and Phil Sawyer). This is the stuff that dreams are made of, especially in the "Summer of love" (god what an awful phrase, I hear it and I have to picture Monkey boots,  #2 crops and  Desmond Dekker until it goes away).

"Don't Want You No More" is typical pedestrian white boy '67 blues (when everyone and their brother wanted to be John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers).  Yawn.  The only treat is the cool organ solo, sadly offset by twangy blues licks and it's back to sleep.....

Both tracks can be found on their U.S. LP "With Their New Face On...".

Hear "Don't Want You No More":

 Cool 1967 promo film for "Time Seller":


Sunday, October 5, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels:The Swinging Sound of Jimmy James & The Vagabonds

JIMMY JAMES & THE VAGABONDS-Red Red Wine/No Good To Cry U.S. Atco 45-6608 1968

Sixties London night spot live sensations Jimmy James and The Vagabonds never troubled the hit parade in the U.K. but that didn't stop their U.K. label Piccadilly from issuing a slew of 45's there. Managed  by  mod kingpin Peter Meaden, who became their manager after being eased out of that role for The Who, they were a  band of musos oiled into a well drilled r&b/soul machine after initially playing ska/calypso. Like Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band they worked hard, gigged daily, put on some energetic shows but fame remained elusive for them, no doubt like Geno et al owed to the fact that their material was for the most part, covers of U.S. soul/r&b.

This was their third single in the States, their second on Atco (who also released their LP "The New Religion"  as Atco SD 33-222 in 1967). A good year before Tony Tribe's reggae-fied version Jimmy James and Co. covered Neil Diamond's March 1968 track "Red Red Wine". It was released in the U.S. in September 1968, three months after the U.K. issue (their first on the Pye label as 7N 17175 ) with a different flip than it's U.K. counterpart utilizing the their previous G.B. A-side "No Good to Cry" as the underside here.

Jimmy James & The Vagabonds live 1968 c/o

"Red Red Wine" is delivered in a slow orchestrated manner.  It's not a bad tune and Jimmy James certainly has a great voice but it's purely M.O.R. stuff.  The real guts are on the uptempo soulful B-side "No Good To Cry".  The number was originally cut a year earlier in the U.S. on the Cadet label (5561) by a white soul band called The Wildweeds, once again illustrating the continuing "cover band" issue.  Jimmy James and the boys pull out all the stops but pretty much stick to the original arrangement, the only difference being the production on the Vagabonds version is a bit better but it's unfortunately nowhere near the original!

Both sides have been issued in a variety of compilations as Castle, who owns Piccadilly/Pye is pretty easy with their licensing. The best place is on a double CD of their material "Sock It To 'Em J.J.: The Soul Years" that is still in print and collects the best of their Piccadilly/Pye material.

Hear "Red Red Wine":

Hear "No Good To Cry":

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jimmy Page Did Not Play On Every Cool Record Made In The 60's, BUT.....

This should provide some closure or perhaps further stoke the flames of conjecture on just what records Pagey DID play on.....

September's Picks

1. SLADE-"Omaha" (Live B.B.C.)
Slade kick the guts out of the already powerful Moby Grape number by wiping it clean of any West Coast "love your brother" hippy bullshit and turning into a 100 mph amphetamine sulfate stomper delivered at breakneck speed with solid precision from an 1969 Beeb session. Musos to a man.

2. DAVID ESSEX-"So Called Loving"
Before you all recoil in horror....this number was unearthed by Decca/Deram for their "Northern Soul Scene" CD eons ago and I've finally gotten into it no doubt thanks to the VERY British production/backing which is tops in my book.  I'm still no closer to figuring out when the fuck this number is from as the CD liner notes are vague and it's not showing up in any of Mr. Rock On's discogs.

3. DEE AND THE QUOTUM-"Someday You'll Need Someone"
One of the sad things about owning just way too much music is you'll have had a track on a comp for ages and then it gets comped again and your mind is blown, only to discover you've had it all along.  Case in point this Canadian group's trippy phlange masterpiece from 1969 originally on "Rubble 18: Rainbow Thyme Wynders" and recently pricked up my ears on RPM's "Keep Lookin'" box set!

4. THE WILDWEEDS-"No Good To Cry"
I was first familiar with this number via Jimmy James & The Vagabonds and after some research tracked down the original by this blue eyed soul band from Connecticut from April 1967 which in my book slays all comers (including John Fred & The Playboy band who also covered it).  My pal Edmund Rudolph tells me they were fronted by one Al Anderson who went on to form NRBQ.

5. FABIENNE DESOL-"When My Mind Is Not Live"
My old friend Layla turned me onto this incredible cover of Status Quo's track recently and though not being a fan of much "new" music I was bowled over by this immediately.  The backing music is spot on to the original and Fabienne's dead sexy French accent just turns the whole thing into nothing short of KILLER.

6. GEORGIE FAME-"Try My World"
August 1967 saw Georgie Fame release his second single on CBS with his revamped sound and band.  I imagine most of his hardcore r&b loving fans were put off when this happened but I think the brilliant production touches by Denny Cordell and the sophisticated feel of this number pulls it off.  I've always imagined this playing in some cheezy Swinging London film with it's harp, muted trumpet solo and muzaky piano.

I've no idea how I came across this hysterical little groover from 1966 on the legendary ESP Disc label that I'm totally besotted with.  The lyrics are hysterical and the mildly r&b-ish groove is damned infectious and deserves to be comped somewhere. One wonders what the Hell's Angels M.C. thought of this number.

9.THE MOODY BLUES-"Peak Hour" (Live BBC 1967)
One of my main gripes with The Moodies essentially brilliant "Days Of Future Passed" album is the annoying orchestral bits linking all the amazing songs together.  The live BBC CD released a few years back remedies this while giving a glimpse of how amazingly tight they were both vocally and musically as this session from '67 proves.

10. DAVID BOWIE-"Maids Of Bond Street"
One of my fave tracks from Bowie's eponymous debut 1967 Deram LP is this ode to an actress who has it all except for the boy who's shunned her and the bright lights and big city that took her away.  It's one third Left Bank (as in Parisian sense with it's accordion, not the NY band ), one third jazz (check out the swing to the drums, bass, piano and choppy guitar chords)  and one third "light program" (dig the strings).  And it works!  And contains one of Bowie's most unusual lines "gleaming teeth sip aperitifs" . Criminally left off the U.S. edition!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Artwoods: Steady Gettin' It Dissected

The Artwoods “Steady Getting’ It: The Complete Recordings 1964-67” has been long awaited. With a host of live BBC tracks and an entire live disk culled from a gig in Denmark from 1967 it’s release has been the subject of much anticipation here.

The big surprise of disc one for me are the four demos by The Art Wood Combo.  The quality is amazing and sound surprisingly like the Graham Bond Organization sans saxophone. “Chicago Calling” being my fave of the four with a ska beat version of “Talkin’ About You” coming in as a close second. The rest of the tracks are the band’s A and B sides as well as the four cuts from their rare as hell E.P. “Jazz In Jeans” and their two cuts as The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. All these tracks are good, but you knew that already.  All the mixes are Mono so they sound a bit cleaner than what we’ve been used to with a harder edge on quite a few tracks making even numbers I’d been previously unimpressed with sound “new” and “fresh”. The really big news on this disc is the BBC sessions from ’65-’66 (all in pristine quality, no hand held mikes up to the radio speaker like some Beeb tracks in other places). Solid, well executed versions of Artwood’s faves “Goodbye Sisters”, “She Knows What To Do” and “Can You Hear Me” swing as do previously unheard live BBC versions of “Smack Dab In The Middle” and “Jump Back” and there’s two brief interviews with lead singer Art Wood.


Disc Two comprises of the band’s rare 1966 LP “Art Gallery” and more BBC sessions from ’66-’67 (equally in amazing quality).  It also brings to light one of the difficulties of the band’s career: all twelve cuts on the “Art Gallery” were covers and all the BBC cuts save “In The Deep End” are covers as well. That said the LP is a great eclectic mix of Stax (Eddie Floyd and Booker T), Atlantic (two Solomon Burke tracks!), Jazz (Jimmy Smith), Motown (Marvin Gaye), two Lee Dorsey numbers and others. The highlights from the BBC sessions from 1966 being storming versions of Marvin Gaye’s “One More Heartache”, Benny Spellman’s “I Feel Good”, Eddie Floyd’s “Things Get Better” and what would be the B-side of their final single, a band original “In The Deep End”. The 1967 session is equally powerful with “In The Deep End” again with its A-side, a version of Marvin Jenkin’s “What Shall I Do”, Otis Redding’s arrangement of The Fab’s “Day Tripper”, Billy Preston’s “Steady Gettin’ It” and the Mitch Ryder melding of “Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly”.

The third and final disc is for bona fide Artwoods completists only.  It's a 12 song live set from the interestingly named Funny Park in Denmark from 1967.  The sound quality is atrocious to the point that Art Wood's vocals are nearly obliterated by all the instrumentation.  It was a chore to actually listen to this entire disc in one sitting despite the fact the the band were a tight unit even this late in their game. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Amen

AMEN CORNER-High In The Sky/Run, Run, Run U.S. Deram 45-7521 1968

Today's topic was Cardiff, Wales favorite sons Amen Corner's fourth U.S. 45 release issued in October 1968 . It was released previously in July in the U.K. as (DM 197) where it became their highest charting record reaching a respectable #6.  No such luck in the U.S.A where their name would never pop up in the Billboard chart readings.  Issued in conjunction with their U.S. Deram LP "Round Amen Corner"  it was one of the first numbers I ever heard by them and still remains a fave.

Amen Corner's strength in my book always lay with their strong horn section twin sax attack of Allan Jones and Mike Smith which in my estimation helped compensate for lead singer Andy Fairweather Low's occasionally strained voice. "High In The Sky" benefits from the strong horn section as well as a nice fairground style feel to their churchy Hammond and grooves along quite nicely. The pounding, fluid James Jamerson style bass line weaving in and around the horns and Hammond is a further indication of how shit hot this band was.

"Run Run Run" suffers from the above mentioned tendency  by Fairweather Low in the vocal department, who like Chris Farlowe always seemed to be given numbers with keys he could never quite hit.  And regardless of what the musical backing is like (it's not at all un-listenable) it's lame, the tune itself is pretty weak as well.

Both sides can be found on the Deram CD reissue of their LP "Around Amen Corner".

See a half assed mime attempt from German TV's "Beat Club" below:

Hear "Run Run Run":

Saturday, September 13, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Cryin' Shames

THE CRYIN' SHAMES-(Don't Go) Please Stay/What's News Pussycat U.S. London 45-LON 100 1966

The Cryin' Shames sole U.S. release was their debut British single (Decca F 12340 February 1966), the Joe Meek produced cover of The Drifters 1961 opus "Please Stay". A minor hit at home (#26) it remains an obscurity here having failed to do anything. Curiously it was titled "(Don't Go) Please Stay" here.

Drenched in typical Meek echo induced organ "Please Stay" is a weak tune regardless who's playing it or who's twiddling the dials. The vocals sound like lead singer Charlie Crane has something in his mouth or has just had dental work and it's a sad example of how much crooner schlock Meek was wont to shell out whilst simultaneously recording monsters like The Buzz "You're Holding Me Down" (we profiled that one here).

The curiously titled "What's News Pussycat" bringing up the B-side (curious because the title does not appear in the lyrics) is far more entertaining.  It's a harmonica led bluesy/r&b thing with some downright Dylan inspired drawling lead vocals, far more listenable than the A-side and has zero to do with the Bacharach tune "What's New Pussycat".

"Please Stay" appears on Castle Music's double CD comp "Joe Meek The Alchemist Of Pop" whilst "What's News Pussycat" cropped up on their highly recommended CD comp "Joe Meek Freakbeat".

Watch "What's News Pussycat" on ABC-TV's "Where The Action Is":

Watch "Please Stay"on ABC-TV's "Where The Action Is"(embedding disabled by some prat):

Friday, September 5, 2014

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides:"Professor" Stanley Unwin's U.K. 45.

STANLEY UNWIN-Goldilocks/The Saucy Apprentice U.K. Pye 7N 15436 1962

Most of you here are aware of Stanley Unwin from his narrative on The Small Faces 1968 LP "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake", some of you may even have heard his 1960 spoken word LP "Rotatey Diskers" (Americans will perhaps know him from the film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as The Chancellor of Vulgaria).  If you don't know of him he was an English comedian who created his own whimsical language called "Unwinese". "Unwinese" consists of throwing lots of endings on words (he was quite fond of "bold" or "load" on things, whereas "sing" would become "singbold" or "singload" or adding "Y" endings on words).  In a country that embraced numerous eccentric comedians, Unwin became quite famous and in demand eventually leading to a career and ultimately being asked to narrate The Small Faces LP after spending some time with them to pick up on their "dialogue".

It wasn't till record browsing at the end of last year that I became aware of his single which I dutifully snapped up (at an affordable price I might add).  I had heard a few things on YouTube from "Rotatey Diskers" so I was quite surprised that unlike the album both tracks on the 45 have a light jazzy backing as the LP is, from what I've heard, spoken word only. Stanley Unwin's "material" isn't something you'll listen to over and over again but it is amusing for a cursory look.

"Goldilocks" will certainly come as no surprise to Small Faces fans as he uses a few phrases recognizable from "Ogden's.." with some mild jazzy piano, stand up bass and muted trumpet tinkling away in the background whilst Stanley recites his interpretation of Goldilocks over the top.

"The Saucy Apprentice" follows the same formula with a jazzy backing that sounds at times, faintly like "Cheesecake" but the music is a bit more swinging making it sound like a wiggy beatnik record!!

Hear "Goldilocks":

Hear "The Saucy Apprentice":

Stanley Unwin narrating in-between The Small Faces "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" LP on the TV series "Colour Me Pop" 1968:

 For more clips please visit this website and click on "audio":

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Moody Blues Mark One: In America Part Four- U.S. 45 Debut (Of Sorts)

THE MOODY BLUES-Go Now/Lose Your Money U.S. London 45 LON 9726 1965

The Moody Blues U.S. debut came in December 1964 when London issued their 2nd U.K. 45 (Decca F  F12022) as 45 LON 9726, a cover of the Bessie Bank's tune "Go Now" (#1 across the pond in November 1964) with it's U.K. flip, a cover of the Lulu Reed/Freddie King duet "It's Easy Child". It stalled chart wise here upon it's release and was relaunched in January 1965 with a new flip, a group original called "Lose Your Money" which graced the flip of their U.K. debut single "Steal Your Heart Away" (a Bobby Parker track, issued in September 1964 as Decca F11971). When reissued it went to #10 in the U.S. hit parade becoming their highest charting U.S single until 1967's "Nights In White Satin" by an altogether different line up with a different sound. It featured the same catalog number as the first pressing with the earlier U.S. London purple and white logo (replaced by their new blue swirl label on later pressings like our specimen above).

"Go Now" is vastly different from the original thanks to the heavy echo that creates an almost drone effect on the backing vocals throughout the song and has a  nice uptempo touch to it courtesy of Mike Pinder's piano  moving from the soulful dirge of the original to an almost ragtime swing. It's been a bit played out by it's still a great version.

"Lose Your Money" has always been my fave Denny Laine era Moodie's track thanks to the surviving footage of them included on the first "Ready Steady Go" VHS compilation. It blew me away after I'd somehow overlooked it and re investigated it on the urging of my pal Mike Sin.  Shortly after reviewing the VHS again, my mind suitably blown by what I'd seen (see the clip below)  I immediately went out and purchased a dodgy picture disc LP of their early stuff titled "Go Now". "Lose Your Money" (written by Denny Laine and Mike Pinder) is driven by some well placed harp blasts and bluesy guitar licks with some subtle combo organ beneath it delivered at a very dance-able tempo. Nearly 30 years later it still sounds amazing.

Both tracks can be found on Deram/Decca's CD reissue of their U.K. LP "The Magnificent Moodies" which contains all of their Denny Laine era U.K./U.S. material and is still in print.

"Go Now" on "Top Of The Pops" 1964:


 "Lose Your Money" on "Ready! Steady! Go!" 1964: